"I’d love to be just recognized for my art as well, as opposed to, 'oh yeah, he’s pretty dope for an Asian'."
In an interview with RADII, Rap of China star MC Jin said he wants to be recognized as something more than just “an Asian rapper”.
MC Jin first made a name for himself in the early 2000s as a teenager entering the American rap business. Now, the 37-year-old Asian American reflects on his beginnings and rise to fame in an industry where there were no Asian rappers.
“20 years when I was 16, 17, and basically trying to make my way into the rap game, [Asian rappers were] absolutely unheard of,” Jin said. “It was like, “Yo, nobody ever seen an Asian rapper. Nobody wants to hear an Asian rapper. Nobody cares about Asian rappers. The thought of an Asian rapper is so outrageous and farfetched, why are we even talking about Asian rappers?”
Two decades on, Jin is still recognised as breaking down the barriers for other Asian rappers.
“For all of the ones that are like, “man, Jin, you kicked down doors,” or “Jin, we used to watch you and we used to listen to your freestyles and we saw you come into the game and that kinda let us know ‘Oh, it’s doable and not outrageous for me to pursue this path’” — I love and cherish those types of sentiments, in the sense that it’s both encouraging and humbling.”
Nonetheless, the ‘Learn Chinese’ rapper hopes that Asian representation will just be the norm in the future.
“I would hope that maybe 10 years from now, this won’t even be a a topic of discussion because it’ll just be so prevalent and of the norm that we won’t have to be like, “Oh you know who’s really making waves in the Asian community?”
For his own career, Jin also wants to move away from being known as “that Asian rapper”.
“Yes, I’m an Asian artist, but I don’t want to be just a dope Asian artist,” he said “I’d love to be just recognized for my art as well, as opposed to, ‘Oh yeah, he’s pretty dope for an Asian’. But at the same time, anyone that says, ‘Yo man, he’s a dope Asian rapper’ — I’m not gonna refute it.”
Perhaps Jin’s biggest leap from being “just an Asian rapper” is his role in The Rap of China – a Chinese rap competition show that has been credited for making hip hop widespread in mainland China.
“It was something that China had never seen,” Jin said. “Let me clarify: there’s been hip hop in China since forever. There’s been a hip hop community, there’ve been artists, there’ve been rap battles. It’s been there. Iron Mic has been in China a decade plus, and the people behind Iron Mic have been in China doing shows and mixtapes and albums and music festivals since the beginning.”